Look mom, no bezels: Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi demonstrates serious experimental clout with its new Mi Mix concept phone, a device with a daring ceramic build and nearly-edgeless display.
The Mi Max packs an enormous 6.4-inch screen onto a body that's about the size of an iPhone 7 Plus. The screen, which has an unusual 17:9 ratio, takes up the entire front face excepting the sliver of a "chin" along the bottom border. The overall impression is not of a phone with a screen on it, but of a screen that is a phone.
Xiaomi conducted some novel engineering to make this possible. Sensors that are normally found above the display were shrunk down, rearranged or replaced. The front camera was compacted and moved to the chin, and the earpiece was replaced with a ceramic acoustic system that converts electric signals to mechanical energy, harnessing the phone's metal frame to produce sound.
What was sacrificed? Display resolution. While many of this year's Android phones have AMOLED displays with pixel densities upwards of 500 ppi, the Mi Mix's 2,040 x 1,080 IPS display only has about 362 ppi.
Some aspects of this format might bring to mind the Sharp Aquos Crystal, a 2014 flagship that was also "edgeless" on three sides. But unlike its predecessor, Mi Mix has high-end internals that include a Snapdragon 821 processor, 4 gigabytes of RAM, an ample 4,400mAh quick-charging battery, and 16 MP rear/5 MP front camera.
The possibility of completely edgeless displays – sometimes referred to as edge-to-edge or bezel-free displays – has been part of the smartphone rumor mill for years. But since whispers about next year's iPhone 8 hint at an edge-to-edge display, this technology is back in the limelight. Mi Mix will no doubt garner attention for its similarities to rumored iPhone features.
Unlike other concept phones, Mi Mix will actually hit shelves starting in November – but only in China. Full retail price starts at a fairly reasonable 3,499 yuan, approximately US$515.